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Last night in Eugene, Oregon, Abby Steiner placed fifth in the world in the 200 meters, with a time of 22.26. She was the top American. Her 21.77 at U.S. championships a few weeks ago was the second-fastest time in the world this year coming into the World Championships. She’s the sixth fastest American ever in the event.
“It was just such a great learning experience,” she said. “I got to compete against some of the people I have looked up to for so long in this sport.”
Nearly every time she’s raced a 200 so far this year (and she’s been in a lot of races), Steiner is clearly in the front. She usually gets out of the blocks well and comes off the turn leading. This was the first time this year the lanes around her were filled by women who are just as fast as her, or faster.
The 200m Final at the World Athletics Championships
Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson won the race in 21.45, a championship record. She’s the second fastest woman ever in the event after Florence Griffth-Joyner, who ran 21.34 in 1988. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, also of Jamaica, finished second in 21.81, after winning the 100 meters a few days ago. Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith finished third in 22.02, after setting a national record in the 100 final a few days ago, where she finished fourth.
The very American crowd in Hayward Field had their eyes on Steiner. Nobody really knows anything about her; her Instagram page doesn’t provide anything substantial about her—other than the fact that she’s very, very fast. But we already knew that.
Sports have always been a huge part of her life; Steiner even played soccer at Kentucky in addition to running track when she first got to college. Her degree is in exercise science, and if she weren’t a track athlete, she’d want to be a physical therapist. She’s passionate about the mechanical, physiological lens of running, even though she has unconventional form. She has a dramatic left arm swing that makes her form recognizable from across the stadium.
What the Future Holds for Abby Steiner
Steiner has deferred an acceptance into a Masters program in physical therapy for the foreseeable future while she does pro running full time. “It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time,” she said. “I want to give back the way those people gave back to me. As an athlete I know that injury is inevitable.” She pulled her ACL playing soccer in high school, and that was a pivotal moment for her: Sports are all she knows, and what she loves was momentarily taken away from her.
Beyond sports, she’s “really into crossword puzzles right now.” I double-taxed and told her she can’t be serious and she laughed. “I also do jigsaw puzzles,” she said. Strenuous hobbies are not for her, as her career is already strenuous and she wants to take the time to decompress and chill out very seriously. She said she spends a good amount of time alone and is trying to read 25 books this year. She’s already 14 deep, and currently reading The Invitation by Lucy Foley.
She’s also interested in bringing fashion to track and field. She signed with Puma this week and the new Puma uniform only has one shoulder. “I love that fashion is coming back into track and field. Bold uniforms, bold hairstyles, makeup, I love it,” she said. “I honestly feel like when I look good I run good. I feel like my confidence exudes itself on the track.” During our interview, her entire outfit was the same color blue and she had matching blue nails—a nod to her alma mater, the University of Kentucky, where she just graduated but plans to continue living and training.
Steiner really likes and trusts her college coach and doesn’t want to part with him. “My coach is one of the main reasons I’m in this position. He completely developed me from freshman year until now.” Lexington is also not far from her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, which is where her family lives.
Steiner was fifth in the world, but she’s just turned 22. Fraser-Pryce is 35. Jackson is 28. Steiner’s got time. We’ll be hearing her name for a while.